26 February 2010
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman's comments in response to media queries about the comments made to the media by Dr Silviu Ionescu:
We are puzzled by Dr Ionescu's remark that the "prosecutors (in Singapore) were accusing me long before they had the right to . . . They should have done a preliminary inquiry first . . . It was clearly a sign that I shouldn't come back." No charges have been made and no judgement has been passed on Dr Ionescu. As Singapore has made clear, the Coroner's Inquiry to be held from 3 to 10 March 2010 into the death of Mr Tong Kok Wai is not a criminal trial. The Coroner's Inquiry is simply to ascertain the facts and circumstances of the death.
Police investigations have revealed that the driver of the vehicle at the time of the two accidents was Dr Silviu Ionescu, who was then the Chargé d'Affaires of the Embassy. Dr Ionescu has denied this.
As we have said many times, if Dr Ionescu was not the driver as he claims, then he should take the opportunity to attend the Inquiry to give his account of the events and pose questions to the witnesses, in order that the true circumstances surrounding the accidents may be determined. Singapore's legal system is well known internationally for its integrity and transparency. The Coroner will make a finding based on the evidence presented before him.
MFA has sought the assistance of the Romanian Embassy to request Dr Ionescu to return to Singapore to attend the Coroner's Inquiry as an "interested person" and not as a potential defendant. The Public Prosecutor has not decided whether it is appropriate to charge Dr Ionescu for any offences. The decision will be taken only after all the facts have been clarified at the Coroner's Inquiry. If the Coroner rules that Dr Ionescu was not the driver, no charges against him will be made. For this reason, it is in Dr Ionescu's interest to return to Singapore to put his version before the Coroner or to appoint a lawyer in Singapore to do so on his behalf.
Dr Ionescu's comment that "Someone died. It's not something solitary, but happens all over the world. There are bigger stories out there" is shocking. We trust the Romanian authorities do not share Dr Ionescu's irresponsible and callous attitude.
Cartoonist Ben Soon's take...